DIXON SEES MANY OPPORTUNITIES DOWN THE ROAD
By Dave Lewandowski | Aug 16, 2013
Five races remained in the 2008 IZOD IndyCar Series season when Scott Dixon left Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course with a third-place finish and 58-point advantage over Helio Castroneves in the championship standings.
Dixon went on to win the next two events in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car to build a 78-point margin over Castroneves, who produced runner-up finishes in the races at Edmonton and Kentucky Speedway to remain in contention.
A victory by Castroneves at Sonoma Raceway on Aug. 24, ending a 30-race winless streak, and second place the next week at Belle Isle – paired with 12th- and fifth-place finishes by Dixon – sliced the margin to 30 points approaching the finale at Chicagoland Speedway.
It would have taken a momentous fall by Dixon, who had won six times and recorded 13 top-10 finishes overall through the 16 races, to be supplanted. His outlook was bolstered when the sanctioning body hit Castroneves with a post-qualifying penalty, which sent him to the rear of the 28-car field on the 1.5-mile oval.
Though Castroneves charged to the front, leading 10 times for a total of 80 laps, and beat Dixon to the checkered flag by .0033 of a second (the second-closest finish in series history), Dixon earned his second series title by 17 points.
Leaving Mid-Ohio this year with a seventh-place finish, Dixon trails Castroneves by 31 points in the championship. There are five races left, starting with the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma on Aug. 25 – plenty of opportunities to overtake the three-time Indianapolis 500 winner.
“The swing can happen,” Dixon said. “We were 92 points out (entering the July 7 race at Pocono), and now we're only 31. It really shows the never-give-up attitude of the team."
Ryan Hunter-Reay, who earned his first series title last year in the final race by a scant three points, is 65 points behind Castroneves. Andretti Autosport teammate Marco Andretti is fourth (76 points back). There are 20 drivers mathematically eligible for the championship entering the 85-lap race on the 2.385-mile, 12-turn Sonoma road course.
Dixon, who won at the track in 2007 and was runner-up in 2011, has won three of the past four races as Chip Ganassi Racing is on a four-race winning streak (Charlie Kimball earned his first series victory at Mid-Ohio). He’s scored the most points of any driver on road/street courses, which comprise four of the final five events.
"We had a bit of an upset at Mid-Ohio, where it didn't go our way, but we've got to bounce back and dig deep and try to get some good results for the last five,” Dixon said.
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